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Deciding Which Opinion to Listen to When Saving A Life On Shabbat

The Daily Halacha Moment - Deciding Which Opinion to Listen to When Saving A Life

״כל השונה הלכות בכל יום - מובטח לו שהוא בן העולם הבא״ (נידה עג ע״א, מגילה כח:)

“Anyone who studies Halachot every day is guaranteed that he is destined for the world-to-come” (Megilla 28b, Niddah 73a)


Who does one listen to when there are conflicting opinions when saving a life on Shabbat?


When there are conflicting opinions regarding if there is a need to violate Shabbat for the sake of an ill person, the following must be considered: [1]

a. If a doctor says that a person’s illness is life-threatening and the ill person says that his situation is not life-threatening and does not need the help: One should listen to the doctor.

b. If there are conflicting opinions between doctors, and one doctor says that the illness is life-threatening and another doctor says that it is not: One should listen to the doctor who says that the situation is life-threatening.

c. If there are conflicting opinions between doctors, but one of the doctors is known to be a specialist in the specific field of illness the patient in suffering from, or, is known as a better doctor in general: One should listen to the specialist/better doctor even if he says that the case is not life-threatening.

d. If the sick person states that he feels that his situation is life-threatening and even if many doctors state that it is not: One may listen to the sick person.

If a person states that he is not feeling well and feels that he is in life-threatening danger, he is considered a choleh sheyesh bo sakanah, and

one may desecrate Shabbat in order to help the person. Therefore, in a situation such as if a person says that he has severe chest pain and feels that he may be having a heart attack, one should help him and may even drive him to the nearest hospital without delay, even though one is unsure if he is showing all of the signs of having a legitimate heart attack. [2]

Adapted From R' Yonatan Nacsons "Laws Of Shabbat" vol. 2, p. 283-284


[1]. Chazon Ovadia, Shabbat, vol. 3, pp. 231-232.

[2]. Chazon Ovadia, Shabbat, vol. 3, pp. 242-243

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